It imitates budgies, but is equipped with peregrine falcon claws, the first bird robot capable of perching on any type of branch: it is a small drone to which two 3D printed articulated legs have been attached with a pincer grip that allows you to grabbing any kind of support or 'prey'.
Tested in the forests of Oregon, it can be used for search and rescue operations, for fire monitoring, or to study the biology of birds and natural habitats for longer times while saving energy.
This is demonstrated by the study published in the journal Science Robotics by engineers at Stanford University.
The innovation of their robot lies in the gripper system that imitates the paws of birds, called Snag (Stereotyped Nature-inspired Aerial Grasper): it is a 'stereotyped' system, in the sense that it always lands with the same mechanism, independently the type of media it has to grab. Each leg has a motor to move back and forth and another motor to operate the grip; it also has the ability to absorb impact energy during landing and then passively convert it into grabbing force. In this way the robot has a strong and fast grip which is activated in 20 milliseconds.
Once grasped the branch, the 'ankles' of the bird robot freeze and the accelerometer sends the signal that it has landed, thus activating the balancing algorithm that stabilizes the robot.
"A robot that behaves like a bird can offer entirely new ways to study the environment," explains researcher William Roderick.
"Most aerial robots, especially those that use rotors to stay suspended in the air, can only fly for about half an hour. This is why the robot's ability to perch and save energy allows us to study the environment for periods. of more prolonged time ".